Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Tourism in Mallorca - Visitors vs Spoilt Brats



The sun has come out and the tourist season is set to begin in Mallorca; if indeed, there ever was a break. Palma has been deseasonalised. During winter, you still can't find free parking easily... although as a learner driver, by easy parking I mean two large empty spaces nicely lined up!

Tourism-focused articles from local newspapers have been cropping up in my Facebook feed lately, eliciting comments which have sent little currents of fury shooting through me.

A planned protest against 'massification' has got readers huffing and puffing. The article refers to the colossal 6,000+ passenger cruise ships, which includes the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas. 

What a joke of a name. Symphony sounds so melodious, so harmonious...

According to Andy Rawson, author and founder of Mallorca Days Out:

"During a one week cruise this monster can produce half a million gallons of sewage, 2 million gallons of dirty water, 250 gallons of hazardous waste and 50,000 gallons of oily bilge water," and he adds, "multiply all that by about 350 ships which come to Palma every year."

They should rename the cruise: The Curse of the Seas. It would be far more apt.

With every news piece related to new regulations, with every attempt to defend the environment, there's always an accompanying indignant outcry:

"Yeah but no tourists, no money!"
"What are you going to do without us, Mallorca?"
"If you piss us off, we'll just sod off to... to Malta! See how you like that!"
"Don't you realise you'll all be out of job if you stop us doing exactly what we want!"

It's like hundreds of sulky kids stomping their feet because they can't eat a fifth serving of cake.  

When did tourists go from being visitors to spoilt brats? Why should they be appeased at all costs to the detriment of the island and the locals?

Yes, the island needs  a thriving tourism industry, but I'd argue that it doesn't need to debase itself and risk being ruined for future generations. It's a relationship - is an abusive relationship better than none at all?

Fortunately, I don't think 'none at all' is very likely. It certainly doesn't feel like Mallorca has to worry about a shortage of visitors just yet. As its friend, I would tell it not to give in to those who want to take advantage and leave it worse off. If Mallorca were a person, I'd tell it to choose a relationship where the respect is equal and the benefits are mutual. I'd say, Mallorca babe, you deserve better.  


***


Now here's a fun holiday read for all the lovely tourists visiting Mallorca and beyond! 



Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Two Books and a Baby



27th October 2017

Dear Daughter-in-law and baby,
I hope you are enjoying your pregnancy - it's one of the most beautiful stages in your life...

At which point I have to stop reading the email to run to the toilet to throw up.

(Extract from The Pregnancy Diaries)

***

Nine years after the publication of Shop Girl Diaries, I've been writing a very different kind of diary! The Pregnancy Diaries. It's an experience I couldn't resist writing about, but which I didn't want to make public until I'd reached the third trimester.

I'm being very old-fashioned about it, writing only in pen and paper. Typing it up will be quite a job as I've used the inkiest of biros and it's all very messy!

At the moment though, the typing up of my diary is not my top priority; finishing my next novel is! I've got a bump-shaped deadline reminding that I haven't got long. I always thought 9 months sounded quite a lot, but time is flying! Baby is due on the 30th May - although only 5% of babies arrive on their due date - so let's see what happens.

I'm hoping to finish my 5th novel by then. Two books and a baby. Sounds good to me. As you can imagine, the DH (dear husband) and I are very excited. 


***

If you haven't read Shop Girl Diaries, it's available in ebook format from Amazon for just 99p!





Monday, 12 February 2018

The Writing Life: Progress report!


I'm about to break a personal record: longest time without blogging!

On the other hand, I've never written so much in my life. I've got a steady stream of work from AbcMallorca magazine, which challenges me on a daily basis to write on a variety of subjects.



Last week I wrote about construction companies, architects, yoga retreats, restaurants and everything in between. Although fiction remains my primary passion, I definitely get a lot of satisfaction from writing articles. I feel I'm getting better at it too. When I think of my early travel articles, I used to take so painfully long over them. It wasn't very lucrative. Nowadays, my words flow much more quickly and coherently. It just shows that it's all about practice. If you put the hours in, you'll get better, whatever the discipline.

I think most people will agree that crossing things off their To Do list gives them a little rush of pleasure. It does for me. With my journalism work, I'm completing tasks every day. Writing a novel is different. It's definitely a marathon, and rather than hoping to cross the whole thing off soon, you've got to appreciate the effort of completing each kilometre, each chapter written. As planned, I did finish a draft of my new novel by Christmas.The trouble is, after writing it, I had to read it. 

I went through the whole draft on the plane over to the States. It had some good bits, but on the whole I wasn't convinced it was a good enough story. I've since killed off a couple of character, given one a new name and identity, and another a new job. 

Although I'm calling it Draft 2, it's closer to a new draft altogether. My new deadline is mid May. I'd like to say I'm leaping out of bed at the crack of dawn each day to get it done, but that would be a lie. I'm just scheduling the fiction in around the journalism during normal working hours. I'm not speeding ahead, but I think I'll get it done if I write a bit each day.

I'm really enjoying using Google calendar.  I find it really useful to organise and balance my time. Balance, that's the key. There's two big chunks in my week blocked out for yoga now. If it's in my calendar then I've just got to do it. Perhaps that's the only reason I haven't been blogging; because I haven't blocked out the time for it. We'll see, Google calendar is great, but it's not magic... or is it?







Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Happy New Year: Bomb Cyclones and Latin Families


I'm back from the States where I spent New Year with 17 assorted family members on my husband's side from Colombia and Ecuador, and one Italian. Funny how much you suddenly have in common with a fellow European when you find yourself in a different continent surrounded by a majority from another continent. The Italian and I, both partnered with Latin Americans, shared our observations on the cultural differences and nature of Latin families.

On this particular trip, what I noticed most acutely is that my Latin American family don't appear to eat any vegetables. Making a salad felt like a rebellious act. At one point, half a pepper was served between eight of us. Luckily six weren't interested, leaving me a decent taste. Half a life-time of living abroad has changed my own Latin husband's eating habits, and fortunately he doesn't see eating vegetables as a penance.

As for New Year traditions, the jolly Colombians and Ecuadorians, have a lot in common with my Spanish compatriots. They all eat 12 grapes at midnight and wear specific coloured pants. In Spain, fire is a common ingredient in festivities, and so too is it in Ecuador. Just after midnight, the family set alight an effigy of the 'año viejo'  (the old year) dressed in pyjamas. Not in the living room as photo might suggest, but in a fire pit outside the house we were renting.  




At this point I should mention our trip coincided with the bomb cyclone on the east coast, which has nothing to do with a bomb, and everything to do with freezing cold temperatures. We huddled around the burning 'old year' in -6 degrees.

Next step: Jump over fire! (By this point, we had, of course, already run around the house with our suitcases to ensure we would travel in 2018!)

Far too high, I thought about the loaded fire pit, plus my dress is synthetic and probably highly flammable. My doubts were forced aside as I was swept up by my husband and his cousin and carried over the fire, flames licking at my derriere. Mad! You're all mad! I cried, while congratulating myself on marrying into a family with spark.

I'm back home now and after two disturbed nights due to jet lag, I finally managed to get up at a decent hour this morning. I'm back in my office, back to normal temperatures. Yesterday, I overheard a builder saying: It's so cold! I almost laughed in his face. Cold he might have been, but not cold enough to put him off drinking his coffee outside on the cafe's terrace.

Cold is -6 degrees, and -10, and everything after that. The icy air felt like daggers in the US - but thankfully our stay was made significantly warmer thanks to the big jovial Latin family reunion! 



Check out Emily's latest book The Hen Party